What I liked about the way Google is doing this is , Google is footing the bill for the call (short distance and long distance), this allows them to go the VOIP route in future. Yahoo is testing Ingenio's pay per call, AOL Search has this integrated with AOL Search . Google differs from AOL-Ingenio combination , in the way that the users don't have call the advertiser, rather the advertisers will be connected to the user after the users filling their contact details. In addition, Google's Pay per Call hides the phone numbers of the users from the advertisers.
What’s the phone icon on Google search results? How does it work?
We’re testing a new product that gives you a free and fast way to speak directly to the advertiser you found on a Google search results page – over the phone.
Here’s how it works: When you click the phone icon, you can enter your phone number. Once you click ‘Connect For Free,’ Google calls the number you provided. When you pick up, you hear ringing on the other end as Google connects you to the other party. Then, chat away on our dime.
We won’t share your telephone number with anyone, including the advertiser. When you’re connected with the advertiser, your number is blocked so the advertiser can’t see it. In addition, we’ll delete the number from our servers after a short period of time.
This has better chance of preventing call frauds , which I am sure AOL/Yahoo will have to deal with in the future. In case of Yahoo and AOL which have similar offering, the phone number is basically published with seach results and there is no way of tracking which query caused the call lead to be generated. Whereas google can provide more details about exactly what search or what kind of user activity caused the call lead to be generated.
I would like this "Click to Call" to be integrated with GoogleTalk , so that the entire transaction can be done with a click of a mouse . Also this would provide a way for advertisers to reach international customers in a cost effective manner.
AOL's has a "Pay per Call" feature in partnership with Ingenio as seen in the screen shot . The search results show a toll free number with a "Phone" icon which the end users can call to reach the advertisers. The toll free number , redirects the call to the advertisers phone number. Since all calls are redirected via the toll free number, Ingenio is able to track the number of call redirects and charge the customers accordingly.
Update: Had blogged early this month how Google could go about implementing a VoIP based system integrating search, local search, maps and Google Talk.